Previously we exhibited our non electric bucket washer, today we are presenting the water press companion. This is a lot easier than a ringer, and easier on the clothes (and operator). We have loaded a video on Youtube, and a Instructable. Also see our previous post about the non electric washer. Enjoy:
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to rely less on worldly (outside) sources for their food supply, one of the very first steps of action is to acquire a supply of open-pollinated vegetable seed. With a good supply of non-hybrid seed, and simple instructions on seed saving, one is well on his way to self-sufficiency. Add a small piece of land and the willingness to work and you can produce all the vegetables you need for all year round, every year.
In 1998 a friend requested that we design and package a seed kit that would last for many years for emergencies. I had been taught gardening and preserving food as a child and continued this all my years. We had experienced gardening in different parts of the country and knew the challenges and successes each year presents. We knew that if lives depended on this seed kit, we had to make it good. We could not choose really exotic varieties of vegetables; we needed varieties that prospered under many varied conditions. We needed open pollinated seed that would tolerate heat, cold, drought, poor soil, short seasons, inexperienced gardeners, weed competition, etc. So we chose those varieties that have proven their reliability. They have been grown all over the country, in all different conditions for many decades, by gardeners of varying abilities. They are very common, because they are survivors. This is what we wanted. We specialized in packaging seed so that it can be frozen and stored for 50 years with almost no loss of germination rates.
We also wanted plenty of seed. Experience has also taught us that there are many reasons for crop failure. Besides heat and drought, there are insects, poor soils, soil with poor drainage, critters (rabbits, moles, deer, chickens, cows that don’t stay in fences, etc.) in addition to gardener mistakes, such as planting too early or late, too deep or shallow, untimely harvesting, weather conditions, etc. etc. So we put in plenty of seed to allow for mistakes. Tomatoes have 600 seeds. Now tomatoes produce alot and 100 plants is plenty for a family of eight including canning tomatoes, and salsa and pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce, and tomato sauce and plain tomatoes. But when you start your tomatoes, you may have damping off problems and lose some plants. And when you set them out in the garden, you may set them out too early and some may freeze. And a fat cutworm may come along 3 days after you set them out and chew it off at ground level. After that, they usually grow pretty good, but there are a host of other insects that can bother them. So while gardening is very enjoyable and most often quite successful, we wanted to be sure you had a second chance. So we put in a lot of seed. For each variety of squash we give you 70 seeds, for peppers 560, for green beans 800-1600 seeds, for corn 2000 seeds, for cabbage, 1000 seeds, etc.
We considered how easy each crop is to start, the ease of transplanting, the quality of food produced, what you can do with the vegetable, (we love watermelon, but besides fresh eating, what can you do with it?) We considered the success rate of saving seed (biennials are more difficult). We looked at the labor involved in growing and harvesting the crop. Can you use it for winter food? And can it be used to feed animals (and neighbors?)
All our seeds are non-hybrid, heirloom, open pollinated, non-GMO seed. There is no fantastic secret about this seed. It is just seed the way it was created by nature. This seed will reproduce themselves just like they have done for hundreds of years. NO, they aren’t necessarily all that old. But there is a major difference between these seeds, and the modern hybrids. Hybrids are produced for various reasons and not all of them are evil. Some are more productive, some are resistant to a disease or insects; some ripen all at once for commercial production. Some travel better across the country than for example, softer, old-time tomatoes. But they do not reproduce seed that will grow a plant just like the parent. So each year, hybrids must have man’s intervention to produce the hybrid seed. GMO seeds are a giant step further away from nature. This involves splicing genes of plants and animals from outside the species, into its genes to produce the desired crop. For example, splicing arctic fish genes into a tomato to make it cold hardy. Our kits include a simple seed saving book.
We also include a wonderful gardening book that discusses how to grow each crop. The Vegetable Growers Handbook by Frank Tozer covers everything you need to know about cultivating all the common vegetable crops. It includes planning, soil preparation, where and when to plant, raising transplants, direct sowing, fertilizing, watering, weeding, pest control, harvesting, open-pollinated seed saving, storage, and cooking.
Again we address the LED flash-light topic, because it’s one of our favorite topics. This time we converted a Eveready(R) Utility Lantern. It comes with a pretty weak PR13 bulb, but we will fix that shortly.
Nice features of this flash-light is that it floats, has a shatter-proof lens, and comes with a 6v battery. It comes in a variety of colors, so if you mail order it, you never know what one you might get.
Ok, Why convert to LED? Well, as we have said in previous upgrades of tube type flashlights, a good LED will last pretty much forever, is shock proof, greatly increases brightness, and can extend battery life by 2x or more (unless you go extreme). Over the years you can save well more than the cost of the bulb in reduced battery costs.
Ever have a bulb get dimmer and dimmer till you can hardly see? Not so with LED’s. They stay bright, and then suddenly go out when battery voltage dips below the minimum needed to keep them lit. Ok, so maybe that’s a mixed blessing. Keep a spare battery handy.
So, here’s a couple of proven LED options.
The 1-Watt LED is a nice visual upgrade for the old 2.38 Watt PR-13. It’s brighter, and whiter (a little blueish versus aging yellow on the PR-13). The 5-Watt Extreme LED will make you blind as a bat (without the cool sonar stuff).
Pulling out the old bulb isn’t very easy, so just take your time and gently rock the plastic carrier plug back and forth with firm pulling pressure.
There you have it! Have fun, and happy conversions. It’s a cool upgrade!
PS: There are not 32 AA batteries inside a 6v lantern battery, if you have seen the gag video claiming otherwise. There are four 1.5v “not quite D” (F) cells in series batteries inside.
Want a rechargeable “Lantern Battery”?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battery_sizes shows that four “C Cells” will fit nicely inside. A 6v lantern battery is about 11 amp hours, so unless you can get creative, you will lose run time, but at least pick up recharge-ability. The 11amp hour “D” NiMH will also fit (a tiny bit larger in diameter than the “F”), and give you similar ah rating as the 6v Lantern Battery. Use the Dorcy 4D adapter for instant conversion!
Remington makes a 6v agm Lantern Battery, but it requires a special charger:
See the following video for ideas.
One of our interests is human power. The average human body can sustain about 100 watts of output. One of the easiest ways to convert human power into work is with the bicycle crank. You can build a electrical generator, pump water, propel a boat, even grind wheat. Here are some very good resources about the history of human power, human power projects, and maintaining bicycle components.
Yesterday I received my package of survival seeds from hometownseeds.com. It will store for 5-10 years, and contains enough corn, peas, radish, onion, beet, tomato, spinach, cabbage, swiss chard, lettuce, carrot, pepper, squash, cucumber and beans to cover a 3/4 acre. Germination tested, Non-Hybrid, Heirloom, Non-GMO, and packaged in water tight mylar for long term storage. It’s a good value, and it ensures the food safety of your family. Great for seed saving. Comes complete with planting information and gardening tips. We recommend it!
Free Seed Saving Information – http://howtosaveseeds.com/
We also recommend our ebook on harvesting and purifying rain water for drinking, cooking, and irrigation. See http://www.green-trust.org/products/, and our water saving videos on laundry and composting at http://www.youtube.com/user/sspence65.
We have been doing some camping this summer, and the question came up about showers and toilets. First off, you need some privacy. There’s a number of tents on the market designed for this purpose. One of the units we used was the Texsport Hilo Hut Privacy Shelter. This tent is high enough to stand up in for a shower, and wide enough for a porta potty. For shower options, there’s the solar method (put the Zodi pump in a black 5 gallon pail), the propane method, and the campfire coil method. One can use a handheld sprayer, or the shower pole. We used a Luggable Loo as our portable toilet, which is a 5 gallon pail with snap on toilet seat and lid, but any camping potty would work. Use a biological breakdown enhancer, not a chemical deodorant.
See these products and more at the Green Trust Gear Shop.
NEW REPORT: FOOD EXPIRATION DATE CONFUSION CAUSING UP TO 90% OF AMERICANS TO WASTE FOOD
NRDC & Harvard Reveal Costs of Mass Consumer Confusion; Offer New Plan for Commonsense Food Date Labeling
NEW YORK (September 18, 2013) – U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America’s dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified, according to a new report co-authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. One key finding from an industry-conducted survey: More than 90 percent of Americans may be prematurely toss food because they misinterpret food labels as indicators of food safety.
“Expiration dates are in need of some serious myth-busting because they’re leading us to waste money and throw out perfectly good food, along with all of the resources that went into growing it,” said Dana Gunders, NRDC staff scientist with the food and agriculture program. “Phrases like ‘sell by’, ’use by’, and ‘best before’ are poorly regulated, misinterpreted and leading to a false confidence in food safety. It is time for a well-intended but wildly ineffective food date labeling system to get a makeover.”
NRDC and Harvard Law’s study, The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America (http://www.nrdc.org/food/expiration-dates.asp) is a first-of-its-kind legal analysis of the tangle of loose federal and state laws related to date labels across all 50 states and presents recommendations for a new system for food date labeling. The report is a follow-up to NRDC’s 2012 Wasted (http://www.nrdc.org/food/wasted-food.asp) report, which revealed that Americans trash up to 40 percent of our food supply every year, equivalent to $165 billion.
For the vast majority of food products, manufacturers are free to determine date shelf life according to their own methods. The report finds that the confusion created by this range of poorly regulated and inconsistent labels leads to results that undermine the intent of the labeling, including:
* False Notions that Food is Unsafe – 91 percent of consumers occasionally throw food away based on the “sell by” date out of a mistaken concern for food safety even though none of the date labels actually indicate food is unsafe to eat;
* Consumer Confusion Costs – an estimated 20 percent of food wasted in U.K. households is due to misinterpretation of date labels. Extending the same estimate to the U.S., the average household of four is losing $275-455 per year on food needlessly trashed;
* Business Confusion Costs – an estimated $900 million worth of expired food is removed from the supply chain every year. While not all of this is due to confusion, a casual survey of grocery store workers found that even employees themselves do not distinguish between different kinds of dates;
* Mass Amounts of Wasted Food – The labeling system is one factor leading to an estimated 160 billion pounds of food trashed in the U.S. every year, making food waste the single largest contributor of solid waste in the nation’s landfills.
Two main categories of labeling exist for manufacturers: those intended to communicate among businesses and those for consumers. But they are not easily distinguishable from one another and neither is designed to indicate food’s safety. “Sell by” dates are a tool for stock control, suggesting when the grocery store should no longer sell products in order to ensure the products still have shelf life after consumers purchase them. They are not meant to communicate with consumers, nor do they indicate the food is bad on that date. “Best before” and “use by” dates are intended for consumers, but they are often just a manufacturer’s estimate of a date after which food will no longer be at peak quality; not an accurate date of spoiling or an indication that food is unsafe. Consumers have no way of knowing how these “sell by” and “use by” dates have been defined or calculated since state laws vary dramatically and companies set their own methods for determining the dates, none of which helps to improve public health and safety.
“We need a standardized, commonsense date labeling system that actually provides useful information to consumers, rather than the unreliable, inconsistent and piecemeal system we have today,” said Emily Broad Leib, lead author of the report and director of Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. “This comprehensive review provides a blueprint calling on the most influential date label enforcers – food industry actors and policymakers – to create and foster a better system that serves our health, pocketbooks and the environment.”
Use of expiration dates for food stem from consumer unease about food freshness mounting over the 20th century, as Americans left farms and lost their connection to the foods they consume. By 1975, a nationwide survey of shoppers showed 95% of respondents considered date labels to be the most useful consumer service for addressing freshness. The widespread concern prompted over 10 congressional bills introduced between 1973-1975 alone, to establish requirements for food dating. During that time, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report to Congress advocating a uniform national date labeling system to avoid confusion. Despite GAO’s prophetic advice, none of the legislative efforts gained enough momentum to become law. Instead, the 1970s began the piecemeal creation of today’s fractured American date labeling regime.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture have the power to regulate food labeling to ensure consumers are not misled, both agencies have failed to adequately exercise their authority. FDA does not require food companies to place any date labels on food products, leaving the information entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer. The only product for which a date is federally regulated is infant formula.
Food producers and retailers can begin to adopt the following recommended changes to date labels voluntarily but government steps, including legislation by Congress and more oversight by FDA and USDA, should be considered as well:
* Making “sell by” dates invisible to consumers, as they indicate business-to-business labeling information and are mistakenly interpreted as safety dates;
* Establishing a more uniform, easily understandable date label system that communicates clearly with consumers by 1) using consistent, unambiguous language; 2) clearly differentiating between safety- and quality-based dates; 3) predictably locating the date on package; 4) employing more transparent methods for selecting dates; and other changes to improve coherency;
* Increasing the use of safe handling instructions and “smart labels” that use technology to provide additional information on the product’s safety.
“The scale of food waste worldwide is one of the most emblematic examples of how humanity is needlessly running down its natural resources. This new report comes on the heels of one compiled by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which points out that 28 percent of the world’s farmland is being used to produce food that is not eaten–an area larger than China,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director. “Everyone, every business, every city, state and government should do something to tackle this wastage to help reduce the global Foodprint.”
* NRDC’s blog series on food waste: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dgunders/
* NRDC’s Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill report: http://www.nrdc.org/food/wasted-food.asp
* UNEP and the FAO launched the Think Eat Save: Reduce Your Foodprint campaign in January 2013-its partners include NRDC: http://www.thinkeatsave.org/.
Contact: Jackie Wei, email@example.com, 310-434-2325 or (cell) 347-874-8305
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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, a division of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, is an experiential teaching program of Harvard Law School that links law students with opportunities to serve clients and communities grappling with various food law and policy issues. The Clinic strives to increase access to healthy foods, prevent diet-related diseases, and assist small and sustainable farmers and producers in participating in local food markets. For more information, visit http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/foodpolicyinitiative/
When we went offgrid, we installed a 12v piston pump in our basement, connected to our shallow well. It had the ability to “suck” from a max of about 25′ deep. You can see this pump at http://www.green-trust.org/products/.
Many folks have much deeper wells, even several hundred feet. We are happy to announce that we have a non-electric deep well option. The “Simple Pump” consists of a submersible pump, operated by a “sucker” rod, that installs below the water level in your well. It’s able to push the water up to 350′, and at up to 5 gallons per minute. The “Simple Pump” can be operated by hand, but has a dc motor option that can be driven by solar direct, or by battery. It can pump into a cistern or open tank, or even a pressurized water system. You don’t need a professional to install the “Simple Pump”, it’s easily installed by the handy homeowner. Although it has a 5 year warranty, it’s designed to last more than 50 years.
The “Simple Pump” system is tailored to YOUR particular well, so there is no “Add to Cart” button.
Medium and Deep Well Pump
Hand operated or DC Motor.
Made in the USA, this durable, but simple pump is built to last! Submit a quote request at http://www.green-trust.org/products/
A Zeer pot is an evaporative cooler. In 90 degree weather you can see cooler temperatures in the 40′s. Basically it’s two clay pots separated by a layer of water infused sand, and a wet towel over the top. If the inside of the interior pot is glazed (water proof), seawater or other non-potable water can be used instead of fresh water. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
A tomato that lasts 2 day on the counter can last 20 days in a Zeer pot.
We have been updating our flashlights to energy efficient LED’s, and replacing the batteries with solar recharged NiMH batteries. This gives us very long life on the batteries, the bulbs, and free recharging.
We start with the venerable MAGLITE , but you can use any 2-3 cell flashlight.
We then add a TerraLUX high power LED replacement for the standard incandescent bulb commonly found in these flashlights.
You can find more bulbs like these at http://www.superbrightleds.com
Then you’ll need a set of Energizer Rechargeable NiMH Batteries
batteries and a charger like the AccuPower AP2020-1 Accu-Manager 20 Battery Charger for AAA/AA/C/D or 9-Volt NiMH, NiCD, or RAM Batteries.
This charger has a 12v auto adapter, so to charge with it, I recommend a 60+ watt solar panel, a appropriate charge controller (Morningstar makes a good series of charge controllers) and a 12v buffer battery like the Walmart type 27 marine deep cycle. This allows you to charge when the sun isn’t shining.
You might think this is an expensive set up, but you’ll cut way back on battery expenses and landfill issues. You’ll be able to recharge batteries for all your portable devices. Even if you don’t go with the solar setup, just having reliable energy efficient light is a plus.